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Associated Press , Published October 23 2012

Conviction in Fargo dentist murder plot upheld

BISMARCK — North Dakota's Supreme Court has upheld the conviction of a man who hired a hit man to kill his son-in-law.

Philip Gattuso was found beaten to death in his Fargo home three years ago.

Gattuso's father-in-law, Gene Kirkpatrick of Jones, Okla., was convicted of conspiracy to commit murder. Authorities said Kirkpatrick didn't want Gattuso, a dentist, raising his preschool-aged granddaughter after Gattuso's wife died, so he hired Michael Nakvinda to kill him.

Kirkpatrick said statements he made to police shouldn't have been used against him. He contended jurors got improper instructions and should have been allowed to consider a less serious charge.

The Supreme Court rejected those arguments Tuesday and affirmed the convictions.

Both Kirkpatrick and Nakvinda are serving life prison terms.

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